OSC Attends Native Plant School

How to Keep Invasive Plants at Bay

Native Plant School: Invasive Species on the Rise

On November 9, OSC staff attended a class through The Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Native Plant School. The course, titled “The Next Invasive Plant Comes to Town” covered current invasive species threats to Missouri as well as techniques for removal on both residential and large-scale sites, from properties like backyards and neighborhood common grounds to larger parks and nature reserves. The course was held at Shaw Nature Reserve near Gray Summit, Missouri. Shaw Nature Reserve is approximately 2,400 acres, and the removal of invasive from a property of that size is much different than removing a patch of honeysuckle from a backyard. The course took place partly in the field, and the instructors demonstrated how to remove several varieties of invasive plants.

In-the-field Invasive Plant Removal

The knowledgeable instructors discussed the history of specific invasive species in Missouri, including bush honeysuckle, and how these species were introduced. The course highlighted the difference between undesirable species and invasive species: invasives are non-native plants or animals that have a negative impact on regional environmental, human, and economic health.  Invasives thrive in their non-native environment, aggressively outcompeting native species for food, water, and space. They can devastate local, native plant and pollinator populations. A perfect Missouri case study is bush honeysuckle. You can learn more about bush honeysuckle and how to remove it here. Originally brought over as an ornamental plant, bush honeysuckle has spread rapidly through Missouri’s open spaces. It is the first plant to leaf out in the spring and the last plant to go dormant in the winter. It shades out many native species with its tall leafy limbs and grows in dense clusters.

Volunteers with OSC’s Operation Wild Lands program have spent the past several spring and fall seasons removing bush honeysuckle from Forest River Trail Park in Sunset Hills. The parkland was held in private ownership for the past 50 years and was not managed for invasive species. As a result, bush honeysuckle took hold and choked out much of the native, woodland forest. This year, volunteers cleared acres of honeysuckle from the property and with re-treatment, a native, healthy forest will begin to reemerge over the next decade.

OSC Board Member Jerry Castillon, Office Manager Caitlin Zera, and Executive Director Kat Dockery at the Native Plant School’s Invasive Species Course

In addition to providing basic information about invasive species, the course focused on invasive plants that are not yet as prolific in Missouri as bush honeysuckle but are on the rise. Particular plants of concern include Oriental bittersweet, burning bush, privet, Callery pear, Chinese Silvergrass and Chinese beautyberry. Early detection and education is key to preventing the spread of invasive species. Educating consumers about which ornamental plants not to buy is also integral to keeping invasive species out of our open spaces. Many invasive plants can look like native varieties and are often sold at commercial garden centers.

A great resource for tracking invasive species is the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System  which provides early detection reporting tools (including apps you can use while hiking!), local and national distribution maps so you can see which invasive species are in your area, and a library of identification and management information. You can learn more with Dr. Quinn Long’s presentation on Invasive Plants.

Stay tuned to our Upcoming Events page for information about a fall invasive plant volunteer removal day in November 2018.



An OWLS volunteer carefully dabs the cut root of a bush honeysuckle plant with a small amount of herbicide to keep the plant from growing back.

OWLS volunteers drag cut bush honeysuckle out of the forest to be chipped and removed from the park.